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NCL becoming Haven+Carnival?


ocdb8r
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We will only cruise in the Haven for many of the reasons that you've outlined. Though, I tend to mix it up a little myself on occasion.

 

You've already determined that dealing with gen-pop and the masses is better than the cost of upgrading to the Haven. Since it still doesn't sit well with you but still not worth the upcharged difference, I think you're making a good move by changing to a smaller class of ship. You'll probably have to deal with gen-pop problems there as well, but on a smaller scale.

Edited by newty25
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2 hours ago, Markanddonna said:

The title and premise of the original posting resonated with me. Some posters' comments (those who hate to leave the Haven) smack of first class and steerage steamship travel from long ago. BTW- the big difference is that the steamship companies started to ban the first and second class passengers from wandering in the steerage areas. Seems the richer folk found the peasant experience entertaining to observe as they looked down their noses at the poorer immigrants.

Wow. This is harsh. I only read one post where they said they pretty much stay in the Haven. And even if they did, so what? They paid for the Haven experience. Your  assumptions that Haven guests  are rich and snobby is judge mental and offensive. Reverse snobbery!

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Greenpea2, I've traveled in the Haven, been a guest at CC events in the Haven, and have several sets of relatives who only travel in the Haven or YC of MSC. While most of these folks are not normally snobbish sorts,  my opinions are based on my own observations and comments I have heard. Sorry, as a historian, I see more similarities than differences in my observations.  My one and only Haven experience as a passenger was because of a gift so that I could experience the "suite life." A nice gift, a nice experience, but it also taught me that a butler, separate restaurants, and special privileges were of no importance to me. It was very easy for me to go back to the "rest of the ship" on future cruises.

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On 6/12/2019 at 12:23 PM, ocdb8r said:

I wasn't clear probably because I'm not entirely clear how I feel.  All I know is that the atmosphere on this cruise was a real bummer for me.  I've done both Princess and Celebrity and found them to be a bit too much subdued.  I like that the NCL entertainment is a bit more up to date and occasionally edgy and generally in the past there seemed to be certain venues that were clearly for hard partying (pool deck, Bliss, Spice) and others where it was a more collegial atmosphere (Atrium, Syd Normans, Maltings).  This cruise just felt like every single venue was packed with people looking to get plastered as quickly as possible.  We couldn't even escape in the Thermal Suite (where I find serving alcohol totally unacceptable as the whole point of this venue is to have a mellow place to relax and rejuvenate).

 

As to the Haven, not upset at it so to speak.  We tried it when it first came out on the Epic and enjoyed it but didn't find sufficient value for the up-charge.  I guess I'm a bit frustrated that the middle ground has been eliminated for a completely bifurcated experience and that NCL has begun to rely so heavily on these drink and dining package promotions to fill the ships, rather than innovating like they did with the whole freestyle cruising concept and other products that hooked me on them years ago.

 

8 cruises with NCL and booked the thermal suite every single time...  I've never seen a waiter taking drink orders in the thermal suite...  😕

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On 6/13/2019 at 10:23 AM, cruiseguy56 said:

We sailed the Breakaway out of Miami on the May 19, 2019 sailing. We saw NO ONE drinking in the thermal suite on any of our several visits each day. The ONLY problem we had with alcohol was while sitting in the atrium while they were doing one of their "game shows". Had someone walk past and he knocked two glasses of wine off a table and it went all over my jeans. Being a non-drinker, I wasn't thrilled with this, but I understand accidents happen. That aside, he could have at least had the decency to apologize to me and the people whose drinks he had just knocked over.

 As for the specialty restaurants, I had an amazing meal in Cagney's (no I did NOT order a steak). My wife's steak was equivalent to one you'd get from Golden Corral buffet, which isn't saying much for NCL's steakhouse specialty. While I had good seafood in Ocean Blue, the DW's lobster (supposedly grilled) came out a soggy mess soaking in water. I've NEVER seen a soaking wet "GRILLED" lobster, so despite the "chef's" personal assurance that it was only grilled, I suspect NCL steamed or boiled it first, then laid it on the grill for a few seconds.

Other annoyances:  We were somewhat shocked to find our balcony door curtains, majorly torn near the top in three places since the ship had undergone renovation not too long ago.

 The cabin door card reader didn't like our cards, even after we got new cards done, it would still take 3-4 tries before the reader would read one most of the time. Even a housekeeping officer walking by had trouble getting the cards to read, lol.

As for the thermal suite, was dissapointed that the hydrotherapy pool is no longer saltwater and minerals. It's no a lukewarm chlorinated pool with jets. While the jets are nice, the missing saltwater and mineral combo that has helped alleviate aches and pains on HAL was, pardon the pun, sorely missed. Although I realized before the cruise that the thermal tile lounges were in the same room as the hydropool on NCL, unlike HAL. I failed to think through the logic that there would be no peaceful quietness while laying on the heated lounges. That one is my mistake, although if you've ever experienced the difference between HAL and NCL in that regard, you may also find it to be poor planning on NCL's part as the total experience is SO much less satisfying and relaxing.  

 To be fair, I will say we had absolutely wonderful excursions and very decent food in Savor. I was also happy to find dal or masala or some form of Indian food on the buffet each day. I'm not Indian, but really love their food! 

While there's no such thing as a bad cruise to me, I'm already booked on HAL for my next one. NCL was interesting and I did like the freestyle overall, but our preferences just fall more in line with HAL.

 

Washy Washy!!

 

When were the thermal spa pools saltwater?  Been sailing with NCL since 2011 and not once found a salt water pool.

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On 6/13/2019 at 12:04 PM, Greenpea2 said:

Wow. This is harsh. I only read one post where they said they pretty much stay in the Haven. And even if they did, so what? They paid for the Haven experience. Your  assumptions that Haven guests  are rich and snobby is judge mental and offensive. Reverse snobbery!

 

A lot of people that post on CC and stay in the Haven come off as rich and snobby...  Even on Facebook groups for NCL, Haven guess often come off as entitled thinking they are better than the rest of the cruise line passengers and owed something...

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1 hour ago, rtkenmore said:

 

8 cruises with NCL and booked the thermal suite every single time...  I've never seen a waiter taking drink orders in the thermal suite...  😕

 

Ever since the Epic we have always purchased a Thermal Suite pass and this was the first time we have ever seen it happen.  And, as I said, the Assistant Manager clarified that it wasn't allowed.  However, it DID happen and to me it signaled that SOMEwhere staff are being encouraged to be very accommodating to those with drink packages.

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I just returned from an Alaskan cruise on Holland and came to the realization that NCL is no longer a good fit for me.  The experience on the Westerdam exceeded NCL in every category except theater entertainment.  The only other drawback was no coffee maker in our cabin but room service is free 24/7 so the mornings I didn’t make a quick run up to the Lido, I had coffee delivered along with tea for my wife.  The crew on the Westerdam was much more friendly than I have experience on NCL in years and our room stewards were so accommodating it was almost like having a butler.

 

I have two future cruises booked with NCL and after those are completed I intend to give Holland another try.  FYI, I’m 73 years old so I don’t need waterslides, rope courses, climbing walls, etc. to have a great cruise.

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This was actually my first cruise and I understand what the original poster was saying.

 

While I did not see a waiter bring drinks to the thermal suite, I did see people bring drinks in with them. This caused a bit of an eyebrow raise and they were getting a bit loud for the thermal spa.

The buffet, well the less said the better. I just figured it served its purpose of feeding the people who wanted quantity and kept people out of my way for the main dining rooms.

Disembarkation was a mess. I don't know enough about normal procedures but I suspect the hold up was customs as other posters have suggested.

We scheduled our reservations for specialty dinning 90 days in advance cause that is how we are so getting reservations were not a problem. The specialty dinning rooms did seem a little crowded but the food was great. Some sides were hit and miss but overall it was really good. We found the service in all the dining rooms to be wonderful.

I will say that the crowd outside of Sid Norman's seemed to be always loud. We didn't spend enough time poolside to comment. The teenagers seemed to be constantly without adult supervision, especially after about 9 when their parents were presumably at the lounges.

 

Having said all that, it was a great first experience and if this is the expectation of NCL going forward then I am fine with it. Is it perfect....no, was it overall relaxing and enjoyable, yes. Trying Celebrity in 2 years for the comparison.

 

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I never really considered Haven folks snobby but they seem to perhaps live in a bubble concerning value and budgets.  I have been advised "You need to book the higher end cabins...We got a great deal." It is sort of like they never considered that we DID price out the more exclusive cabins and decided we didn't want to indulge. Their advice smacks of being treated as rather clueless and stupid.

Edited by Markanddonna
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    Just got off the beautiful NCL Breakaway June 9 sailing. Thanks a bunch, being called a snob is just so bourgeois, I much prefer 'elitist'.  At this juncture in our lives we choose to travel the 'Orient Express' route.  No one knows how much time they have left and you can not take it with you. So Oscar Wilde's famous quote " To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all" resonates with me. Most everything in life is subjective. The Haven on NCL beckons to fulfill my developing hedonistic desires. Now the presumption of this thread is 'is NCL Haven slipping into a more mediocre product?' I will have the answer once I try all the similar products available in the cruise market. This was our first NCL cruise in 20 years. It was NCL's marketing the Haven experience that caught my burgeoning attention.

   Now my impressions of the Haven specifically on the Breakaway. The Haven is a home run. It is clean and beautiful. It has everything a cruiser could want, an attentive and friendly staff, comfortable lounge, always present bartender, gourmet dining (never had a bad meal , cooked just the way we ordered), enclosed and air conditioned pool, stateroom cabin H6 419 sq.ft with 236 sq.ft. balcony, managed by a very humble and attentive steward. Having everything we would love to repeat again and again, we will NOT book NCL in the future. They have a problem in enforcing  any level of decorum in their Haven guests. The few ruin the entire experience. The only person on board with brass is the Captain, who will not hesitate to throw a guest off the ship. But I think even he would have his hands tied by corporate if it turned out to be several cabins. The product NCL offers is top notch, maybe someday. I will have to monitor these CC boards for any sign of change.

  

 

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21 hours ago, rtkenmore said:

 

When were the thermal spa pools saltwater?  Been sailing with NCL since 2011 and not once found a salt water pool.

Well then, Perhaps they never were?  Can only go by what the staff of the Breakaway spa told use on this cruise when we asked about the chlorine in the hydro pool. Of course, now that I'm thinking back on the cruise, we got some contradictory answers to questions about other things as well, not to mention more than a few blank stares in response to some questions. Perhaps NCL needs to do some remedial crew training on the Breakaway? Cruise on and enjoy!

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Two comments:

1.  NCL, Royal, MSC, Celebrity, and other mainstream lines are bringing back "class" cruising.  It is the latest evolution of the industry.  Instead of building ships with more passenger space, they jam people onto megaships and charge extra to get some space.  It's the space version of the specialty restaurant.  As long as there are people willing to pay the high fares for special treatment on a mainstream ship, they will continue to do so.  It is American marketing at it's finest.  Carnival has even jumped onto the trend on its newer ships.    

 

2.  If you have a bar, there will be some who abuse it.  If you have an open bar, there will be more who abuse it because the cost factor is eliminated.  Positioning yourself as a party boat with an open bar will attract even more.  Certain sailings seem to attract high numbers of these people than others.  It is also an issue on Royal and Carnival.  It appears that the OP happened to come across one of those sailings, or just happened to be out late enough to observe these people.  

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When on a cruise I couldn't point out a Haven cruiser vs a non-Haven cruiser.  I've never felt that I'm missing anything that the Haven offers to justify paying the price for it, not enough F U money for me yet.  Sometimes I like to be around the areas where people are having probably too much to drink because they are having fun and being friendly, which is odd being the introvert that I am.  However, when it goes from fun loving to belligerent A-hole then I just move along.  I've seen just as many sober snobby A-holes as I've seen drunk A-holes.

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I can somewhat see where the OP is coming from, but I think the experience is more a function of ship size (passenger capacity), cruise date, and (to a lesser extent) itinerary - and not necessarily indicative of NCL engaging in class-separation of passengers. Travel on the larger ships when college-age and 20-something passengers are more likely to book, and the cruise will have more of a party atmosphere - especially 3- or 4-night cruises (the dreaded "booze" cruises).

 

We homeschool our girls, so we have the flexibility to travel/vacation outside of the peak times. My preference is smaller ships in off-peak, on longer sailings. The passengers on those cruises tend to be more our speed. I've not been in the Haven, but we have been bid-upgraded to a suite (on the Dawn). I loved the suite experience enough that we booked it again on a future cruise - on the Jade (Jewel class). I don't think, for us right now, the Haven offers the same value for cost.

 

In either case, I don't say that to speak poorly of those who are looking for different cruise experiences, be that a party experience or an exclusive experience. More power to everyone, to have the experience they want. It's their time and their money.

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We had this exact experience in July of last year. I thought it was the timing of the sailing, July 4 week out of Miami. Don’t get me wrong, I love NCL and after having just cruised the Symphony on Royal there were some things I really missed, but the party atmosphere on that NCL cruise, encouraged constantly by the activity staff was more than I could take. I was ready to say never again, however DH has encouraged me to give it another go. We are now contemplating Bermuda out of NY, which has me a little concerned. Anyway OP is spot on to what we experienced, we were hoping it was a one time experience but we will see. We’re. It ready to give up in NCL yet.

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Just off the Sky yesterday.  Supposed to be a Cuban cruise, but of course that was not to be....so we stopped in Nassau, Freeport, and GSC instead.  I was worried since I have read on some of these forums that the shorter cruises that included "open bar" for everyone (and not as part of a package deal) was just a glorified "booze cruise".  We did not find it to be that way at all (and I just called my sister to see if she noticed something that I didn't but just didn't mention it).  This is my second NCL cruise--My family did Dawn to Bermuda (out of Boston) about 4 years ago, and have cruised on RCL, Carnival, and Disney as well.    At no time did we hear the cruise staff "pushing" drinks. I found this cruise much more fun in terms of activities (compared to Dawn) even though it is a smaller ship.  The trivia and other games were much more interesting than my previous NCL cruise, and more people seemed to be participating and having a good time.  In general,  the fellow passengers on this cruise were friendlier and more fun overall (and not in a "drunk" way--I am in my 40s and my liver can no longer handle too much "drunk fun").  I DO think it is likely the luck of the draw, but that "luck" probably has a small bit to do with timing, and maybe even port.  BUT--the "general idea" that this short "booze cruise" out of South Florida would be some type of party boat/drunk fest was certainly not my experience.  I enjoyed it MUCH more that I thought I would, even to the point that I would repeat it......which is saying something, because I really like to try new ships or ports.

 

As to the Original Post--

 

1)serving alcohol in the thermal suites seems counter to the "point" of thermal suites and is really just kind of gross, and probably not very healthy as consuming alcohol (even moderate amounts) while purposely sweating  (losing fluid) seems like it would be extremely dehydrating

 

**I think there is less enforcement of policy by some staff and that if passengers insist, I could see staff "giving in", and I have seen this in all areas of travel business, not just cruises.  Such a shame, IMO--if people would just follow the "rules"-both passengers and staff, things would be smoother

 

2) Sorry you found the cruise line to be pushing booze.....that seems to be a bad business model when drinks are "free"  (unless it was maybe during activities that more alcohol could loosen purse strings--like an Art Auction)  I really hope that was more of an isolated event and not company policy.

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On 6/13/2019 at 12:30 AM, Ryanryanryan said:

Carnival has turned into a ghetto cruise line.  If NCL starts to attract the Carnival clientele, I’ll move on to another cruise line.  

 

Why do some people think that people that have cruised Carnival are somehow a "lesser" life form?  

 

I have sailed HAL, Carnival and NCL (and have friends that cruise much more often than I am able to due to work;  we have had the same observations in the last year or so).  Maybe it was just the sailings/time of year/embarkation port,  but I found more "ghetto  behaviour" on the NCL ship than I did compared to my Carnival cruise.  There were some pretty loud people who obviously were trying to get their free drinks in and on a few occasions there was so much EXTREMELY loud rude/vulgar talk that we left that area - and of course the behaviour also spilled over to buffet etiquette, etc..  

 

The similarities between the Carnival and NCL are way more numerous than the differences - but from what I saw, the Carnival crowd on my cruise were less "rowdy" and the buffet food was better.  On the other hand, NCL had better entertainment in the theatre, and although their balcony cabin was smaller, I loved the bathroom set up.  I can't compare speciality restaurants or Haven/Havana areas as I didn't use them.   I don't think NCL or Carnival cheerleaders could call the other cruise line a "ghetto" compared to the one they prefer - there are only subtle differences.  Maybe (and with most main stream cruise lines) the "drink packages" are attracting a clientele that they didn't before.   It could be that cruises are more affordable than before (given salaries, etc).  And if you take a break from cruising for a couple of years (or an all inclusive resort, or Disney World which we visited for many years) you will really notice/see changes in service, what you get for your $$, and how the clients/patrons act).

 

Would I sail on NCL again?   Sure.   Would I sail on Carnival again?  Sure.  Do I have a preference??   No - It would just depend on ports of call and value for the price I'm paying ..... (and the ability to avoid the mega ships …. I like the Dream/Conquest/Jewel size or smaller.)

 

 

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Something I don’t get.  The crew in the Spa/Thermal area are focused on keeping the area spic and span.  So, they’d have to go out of the Spa and go to a bar, with the passenger’s key card to get a drink, and then bring it back to the passenger. 

 

They’re obviously crew and are only tasked to work in the Spa, not act as waitstaff.  What bartender would serve another crew member alcohol?  Finding this hard to fathom.

Edited by graphicguy
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On 6/16/2019 at 3:37 PM, rattanchair said:

   . The only person on board with brass is the Captain, who will not hesitate to throw a guest off the ship. 

  

 

Thanks for all your fine words, but the person who is actually the guy to contact and get to know is the Hotel Director.

 

He's the one in charge of everything other than getting the ship from port to port.

 

gary

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  • 8 months later...

Just saw this news and reminded me of part of why I was a bit uncomfortable on my last cruise with NCL...

 

https://www.cruiselawnews.com/2020/03/articles/cruise-booze/brawl-breaks-out-on-norwegian-encore/

 

I know there were a variety of opinions in this thread and I didn't intend my original post to offend anyone.  I do see how some of the things I said or ways I put things might be seen as putting others down; it was not my intention.  The real motivation for my post was what I saw as NCL crew encouraging excessive drinking, which lead to uncomfortable situations in many parts of the ship (for me).  At the time, I felt like only those in the Haven were given a place to retreat to normalcy.  In any case, I stand by my feelings at the time and I think episodes like the above clearly demonstrate that things get out of control.

 

As I said in my original post, we're in no way abandoning NCL.  We still enjoy many things about the way the line operates, but are now trying other lines and other products to see if something might be a better fit or if we might just benefit from trying other products out rather than being NCL loyal (which we were for many years).

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